- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (August 20, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781608194544
- ISBN-13: 978-1608194544
- ASIN: 160819454X
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.7 x 8.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 60 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #228,209 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World Paperback – August 20, 2013
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"In her remarkable new book The Rambunctious Garden, Emma Marris explores a paradox that is increasingly vexing the science of ecology, namely that the only way to have a pristine wilderness is to manage it intensively." - Wall Street Journal
" Potentially the most optimistic and controversial work about the future of nature to appear in years." - Grist.org
"Ms Marris's book is an insightful analysis of the thinking that informs nature conservation." - The Economist
"What may be the most important book about the environment in a generation." - Idaho Statesman
"Marris is a whip-smart writer . . . already being compared to the greatest environmental writers and thinkers of the past century, Rachel Carson and Aldo Leopold." - San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Emma Marris is an environmental writer who grew up in Seattle, Washington. She has written for the world's foremost science journal, Nature, on ecology, conservation Biology and other topics. She gave a TED talk that urges us to reconsider what we define as nature, and her articles have also appeared in Wired, the Christian Science Monitor, and Conservation. She currently lives in Columbia, Missouri, with her husband and daughter.
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Emma Maris can write and write well, and certain passages of Rambunctious Garden are equal to what I have witnessed in some of her essays on the environment and ecology, but as a whole, her book Is more a hodge pudge of rambling that borders on disorganized, and left this reader all but disinterested in what she had to "say."
Perhaps this book has more appeal for a reader who has no background in ecology. Anyone with an ecological background will not find anything relatively new in Maris book. She spends a good amount of time explaining how next to nothing on the earth is pristine wilderness, or not under the footprint of man's progress, thus the halfhearted excuse for man to manage the entire Earth. There are so many situations in Rambunctious Garden that deal with: ifs, ands; ors; buts; it can be, that I just lost interest in what she had to write.
Perhaps the most interesting section of her work dealt with those experimenting growing trees in areas in anticipation of climate change, yet she rightly includes the absence of all the other aspects (microorganisms etc) of what should be in those zones of anticipation if normal plant succession were to occur. She also hits the nail on the head for small alpine species like the American pika, that must move further and further up a mountain as climate conditions change, yet, in so doing, eliminates the possibility of moving farther north as conditions continue to warm, ultimately to run out of suitable habitat.
"Possible" superfund cleanups such as the Duwamish River in Seattle, Washington receive some ink, but again, the when and how much cleaning questions leave the reader dangling. Invasive species receive attention, mostly on islands- Hawaii, Costa Rica; Puerto Rico... but short shrift is given to the problems caused by invasives such as Zebra mussels, and none to trees such as European Buckthorn that have a tendency to take over wooded areas. We get the canned argument, that these invasives have a tendency to burn out over time, but what Maris really doesn't stress is it's not just these one or two invasives here or there, but a host of them with their spread ever accelerated by people.
Very little attention is given to oceans, and the fish crop that feeds a large portion of the world. Other than the Duwamish River, little attention is given toward the subject of pollution, plastics in the environment, and most importantly, the ever increasing population of humans on the Earth. There is nothing wrong with Zero population growth, and that in itself would go a long way toward preserving ecosystems on the Earth, in particular the large iconic species, as she correctly submits they require so much space, one would also preserve all the other species that one finds in these particular habitats.
She also writes about corridors, something not very new to anybody with the least bit of ecology background, but her approach is so abridged, she doesn't really explain the ramifications of her urban examples, nor the corridors required for iconic species to move about/migrate as the human population ever expands into their habitat.
If Maris' goal with Rambunctious Garden was to raise questions, she has succeeded. If her goal was to offer real solutions for the plant and animal communities of the world, and how we as humans interact with, and preserve them due to our ever increasing population, and list for the riches the Earth provides for us, she has failed.
Anything you have ever thought was good appears to be bad. Preserving habitat: waste of time, plagued with radical ideas. We can't determine an accurate baseline (how things were and therefore should be) so why bother. Preserving species: waste of time, plagued with radical ideas. New species will be created and destroyed regardless of what we do. Just do what feels good at the moment; that should be the new environmentalist's law.
And the title! I have no idea why the book is called Rambunctious Garden. A better title would be Rambling Grumbler.
If we apply the principles in this book to historic architecture:
Why bother repairing the Washington Monument after the earthquake? We have already modified it from its original form by adding an elevator and electricity. We can never keep it in its pristine, original condition, and we can easily replace it with something new and nice. Things change over time. Change is OK!
Why bother preserving the beautiful mansions at Newport, Rhode Island? They will never be pristine and new again, and people have made changes to them over the years. No matter how careful we are in restoration efforts, we will change them from what they were. Since they will never be exactly like the way they were when they were new, we might as well replace them with 30 story apartment buildings. Think of the views!
Like a good reporter, Marris is able to explain key concepts in ecology and the latest debates in an accessible manner, which alone already makes her slim book useful. The flip side is that she is no expert, and any conclusions drawn must be taken with a pinch of salt. What she does is open up the debate of what aspects of nature we should save, challenging our conventional ideas of what conservation is and in general making the reader think more critically on the issue.